Exerpt from Chapter One The Crash
She closed her eyes to rest. She prayed the crash a nightmare. Mustering her meager energy, she tried to breathe, but found it hard. After several failed tries, she called out again. “Help. Help me. My baby…my husband.”
Her voice, however, was small and weak. No one close, no one near to hear. She saw no Christopher, and no Baby. Only white: snow, ice, trees covered in snow. The storm suddenly stopped. She heard nothing, but the winds. Cold, she suddenly began to feel inexplicably warm. The snow packed around her was pink and steaming with her warm blood.
“Help. Help me. Somebody please. Help me.” She feebly cried.
“I have a child, my child, a baby, my husband.” Drenched, her long dark blue shirt and bodice were heavy with water, and mud, encrusted with ice, and snow. Her lower half still resting in the shallows of the ice choked lake. She dragged her slight frame higher on the rock. She tried to lift her eyes over a low line of thick shrubs. Grunting, she prayed with every fiber of her body. Surprised, she was in very little pain, but she became concerned, as she could not feel her legs. Haltingly she persevered, crawling, dragging her lower body several more inches onto the rock, and over until her upper body was out of the water and on the snowy bank. On one side, her hair was clogged with mud, sticks, dirt, and ice. Small lacerations along her hands and neck.
She groaned breathlessly. No longer able to hold her head up she dropped her right cheek upon the snowy bank. Fresh powdered snow blew up from her nostril onto her eyelashes. Mud mixed with blood was in and around her lips. She huffed it out. Sometimes she mistakenly thought she called out for help, while other times she realized she was drifting in and out of consciousness.
The cold sapped the feeling from her blanched fingers, now a ghostly white. She ceased to worry about her lower half. In fact, oddly, she began feeling comfortable. She fought to stay conscious. Taking a deep breath, Margaret rolled from her left to right side and fell over on the snow.
“My baby, Christopher.” She breathed. “The Powers That Be please save my child.”
Dazed, she peered to the clearing blue sky. In her line of vision moved a blurred rounded shadow that descended toward her. A basket woven from a web of forest vines lowered toward her from the pines.
“What is this?” she groaned.
Having come together, the vines wove a basket into which the baby came to rest. She heard a baby’s cry within the basket above her.
“My baby.” She smiled feebly. She blinked slowly.
The magic of the forest saved the baby.
With blurred vision, Margaret peered skyward. The storm cleared as quickly as it begun and she could hear her baby cry again. Her weakened heart raced.
“Thank you,” She devoiced. Reaching up she bent her fingers over the edge of the basket. She felt the baby move.
She could see the baby through the weaving of the basket, as the trees limbs flexed down toward her. Comprised of and suspended by a web of vines, the basket stopped inches from her face and chest. Slowly the basket lowered and turned, gently rolling the baby into Margaret’s bosom.
Margaret heard Philly’s distant squeals echoing across the lake clearing. The horse’s plaintive cries seemed to echo from all directions.
“Poor Philly,” she coughed, blood spilling between her lips.
Weltering in an outlying snowdrift Philly’s baleful cries piqued her ears. Margaret wrapped her arms around the baby. Margaret could do nothing but try to remain conscious through her pain. She could do nothing for Philly. She hoped she would live long enough to give her baby to safety. For now he was pink and warm within her bosom, but unless someone found them soon, he would not survive.
“Where is your father? Christopher, where are you?” she slurred. But Margaret could not move. She could not see her beloved Christopher lay only feet from her, his head beneath the water, drowned.
“Christopher, Chris…toper, Chr…. Uh,” she coughed, swallowing when the brackish taste of blood bubbled within her mouth.
Within the snow-bank, Philly’s nostrils rapidly puffed. She snorted and stirred. Steamy vapor swirling around her mouth and tongue, she lay on her flank on the snow. Frozen vapor crusted her lips and whiskers.
Darkness began reaching into the heart of the woods, and Margaret grew more frightened, not for herself, but for her baby. She weakened with every passing minute. She removed the locket from around her neck and placed it around the baby’s, tucking it into his bunting.
She smiled weakly. “This,” she coughed, “was a gift from Lady Hydra to my mother, your grandmother. It was gifted to me.” Margaret shivered, but less than she did before. She was comfortable now, like being before her warm oven. “Lady Hydra said I should keep this locket near for all times. Now you must keep it the same.” Pausing, she struggled to breathe, “It holds…the essence of all the love created…by all things living, and more.”